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Infrastructure Investment In The Works: Illinois Lawmakers Consider A Capital Bill

Sam Dunklau
NPR Illinois 91.9 FM

Illinois lawmakers say they’ve begun discussing a potential capital bill. It would fund construction and repair projects for the state’s infrastructure over the next several years.

Governor-elect JB Pritzker campaigned on investing state dollars in what has been widely described as Illinois’ crumbling infrastructure.

Since state lawmakers passed the last capital bill in 2009, Illinois’ Department of Transportation says it hasn’t had enough money to maintain the state’s network of roads and bridges. The American Society of Civil Engineers gave Illinois’ infrastructure a “C-” grade when it released its most recent report earlier this year.

So far, hopes for a new capital bill are high in Springfield. Democratic state Senator Toi Hutchinson of Olympia Fields says one could come up for a vote as early as next year.

“I do believe there’s broad support about the fact that we need one. Where you will see the political fights will be how we pay for it,” she posulated.

On the other side of the aisle, Republican state Senator Neil Anderson from Andalusia says the GOP is ready to work with the new Democratic super majority.

“Well, I think a capital bill is necessary," he said. "and I think everybody is ready to spend some money if we know what the economic output is gonna be, if it’s putting more money into the economy.”

So far, lawmakers have kicked around raising the motor fuel tax, even legalizing marijuana, as a way to do that. Either way, new money is needed. IDOT says the state will need to come up with $6.5 billion over the next decade — and that’s just to get roads and bridges to a level considered “acceptable.”

Sam is a Public Affairs Reporting intern for spring 2018, working out the NPR Illinois Statehouse bureau.
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